You are petitioning for a green card for your spouse, child or other close relative because you want to live together as a family in Texas. But what if you were to pass away suddenly? Would your relative have to stay in their current country, or can they still try to live in the U.S.?
Generally, an immigration visa requires a petitioner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If the petitioner dies while the petition is still pending, the petition must be denied. But there is an exception for certain cases called Section 204(l). A person who qualifies might be able to continue petitioning for permanent resident status even though their sponsor has died. Ways to qualify include:
- Being the principal beneficiary or derivative beneficiary of a pending or approved Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative filed by a U.S. citizen or green card holder before they died.
- Being the derivative beneficiary (such as the principal beneficiary’s children or spouse) of a pending or approved Form I-130 petition and the principal beneficiary dies.
To successfully file for 204(l) relief, you must find a substitute sponsor to file form I-864 to testify that you will not become dependent on public relief. They must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, at least 18 years old and be related to you in one of these ways:
- Adult child
- Mother- or father-in-law
- Son- or daughter-in-law
- Sister- or brother-in-law
There are other forms that must be filled out as part of the 204(l) process. Help from an immigration attorney can help you continue your quest to stay in the U.S. permanently despite losing your loved one.